Tuesday 15 March 2022

An Anglo-Indian Orpheus, a first Ariadne and the challenge of The Pearl Fishers - Opera North's 2022/23 programme

Shahbaz Hussain, Kaviraj Singh and Nicholas Watts in workshop for Orpheus at Opera North (Photo Justin Slee)
Shahbaz Hussain, Kaviraj Singh and Nicholas Watts in workshop for Orpheus at Opera North (Photo Justin Slee)
Opera North has announced its 2022/23 season and it is certainly full of good things, with eight productions. Orpheus forms a central theme of the Autumn, with two new and very diverse productions, whilst in the Spring comes the company's first production of Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos

For a new production of Monteverdi's Orpheus, Opera North will be collaborating with South Asian Arts UK in an innovative staging which will be the culmination of a long period of exploring ideas and connections between Indian and Western classical musics. The production is directed by Anna Himali Howard, musical direction is shared between Early Music specialist Laurence Cummings and composer and sitar player Jasdeep Singh Degun, whose previous work with Opera North includes Arya, a concerto for sitar and orchestra. The artistic consultant is Ustad Dharambir Singh MBE (who founded South Asian Arts UK), with a cast which mixes Western and Indian classical singers. Alongside this will be concert performances of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice with Alice Coote and Fflur Wyn conducted by Anthony Hermus.

Another highlight comes in the Spring, when Rodula Gaitanou directs Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos, in a co-production with Gothenburg Opera (the production debuted in Gothenburg in 2018 to very positive reviews). Anthony Hermus conducts with Elizabeth Llewellyn singing her first Ariadne, Hanna Hipp as the Composer and Erin Caves as Bacchus. 

For the Summer, the company is presenting a concert staging of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers conducted by Matthew Kofi Waldren and directed by Matthew Eberhardt. The staging and a series of related events will explore the challenges of presenting this work today with its original setting of an exoticised pre-colonial Sri Lanka. Another intriguing event is a staging of Mozart's Requiem being performed in association with Phoenix Dance Theatre. Garry Walker conducts with choreography by Dane Hursts.

Revivals during the year include two productions which made a splash when new and certainly repay a visit. Alessandro Talevi's production of Verdi's La traviata returns with Anna Denisova, Nico Darmanin / Oliver Johnston, Stephen Gadd / Damiano Salerno, conducted by Jonathan Webb / Manoj Kamps. Edward Dick's production of Puccini's Tosca returns with Giselle Allen in the title role, plus Robert Hayward as Scarpia (both returning to the roles), conducted by Joana Carneiro (making her Opera North debut). David Pountney's classic production of Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen returns with Garry Walker conducting and Elin Pritchard in the title role.

The company's Young Performers programme is now housed within the recently redeveloped Bramall Education Studio at the Howard Opera Centre, and projects include vocal ensembles for different age groups, the Opera North Children’s Chorus, Young Voices and Youth Company, training young singers in classical voice, choral singing and stagecraft, and young instrumentalists taking part in regular orchestra and sectional ensembles, including Strings, Brass, Percussion and Wind Academies for ages 10-18. The recently formed Opera North Youth Orchestra, a pre-professional ensemble in the North of England for career-minded instrumentalists aged 16 – 21, serves to help transition from further or higher education into the professional world of music.

Full details from the Opera North website

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